By Staffan A. Qvist, et al.

A number of analyses, meta-analyses, and assessments, including those performed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the International Energy Agency, have concluded that deployment of a diverse portfolio of clean energy technologies makes a transition to a low-carbon-emission energy system both more feasible and costly than other pathways. In contrast, Jacobson et al. MZ, Delucchi MA, Cameron MA, Frew BA (2015) Proc Acad Sci USA 112(49):15060–15065] argue that it is feasible provide “low-cost solutions to the grid reliability problem with penetration of WWS [wind, water and solar power] across energy sectors in the continental United States between 2050 2055”, with only electricity and hydrogen as energy carriers. In this paper, we evaluate that study and find significant shortcomings in the analysis. In particular, we point out that this work used invalid modeling tools, contained modeling errors, and made implausible and inadequately supported assumptions. Policy makers should treat with caution any visions of a rapid, reliable, and low-cost transition to entire energy systems that relies almost exclusively on wind, solar, and hydroelectric power.

Mid-October’s HeartlanHeartland Film Festival 2017d Film Festival in Indianapolis included the premier of a new pro-nuclear documentary entitled The New Fire. The movie focuses on the rise of reactor startups, particularly Transatomic and Oklo, illustrating how young inventor/entrepreneurs are striving to bring advanced nuclear power designs to market. The director, David Schumacher, hopes to not only educate and inspire his audiences to learn more about nuclear power, but to expose young people to the possibilities and excitement of a career in science or engineering.

by Hannah Ritchie

Our World in Data presents the empirical evidence on global development in entries dedicated to specific topics.
This blog post draws on data and research discussed in our entry on Energy Production and Changing Energy Sources.

 Energy production and consumption is a fundamental component to economic development, poverty alleviation, improvements in living standards, and ultimately health outcomes. We show this link between energy production and prosperity here, where we see a distinct relationship between energy use and gross domestic product per capita.
The unintentional consequences of energy production can, however, also result in negative health outcomes. The production of energy can be attributed to both mortality (deaths) and morbidity (severe illness) cases as a consequence of each stage of the energy production process: this includes accidents in the mining of the raw material, the processing and production phases, and pollution-related impacts. We have recently explored this trade-off with respect to development and air pollution.

 

A recent article in Engineering News argued that wind and solar could provide the bulk of South Africa’s power at the least cost. Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz argued that building 22 GW of wind and solar capacity and 8 GW of “backup” (in the form of coal and/or gas) was the sensible solution to supplying a reliable 8 GW of electrical power to South Africa. Apparently his argument is that the amount of money saved on fuel will outweigh the cost of such extreme overbuilding.

Having seen actual results of such folly based on computer modelling and other types of simulations, one can be forgiven for being skeptical of such claims.